Widener v. Lincoln Financial Group
ORDER granting 11 Motion for Default Judgment; JUDGMENT in favor of David Widener against Lincoln Financial Group in the amount of $4275.00 plus post judgment interest pursuant 28 U.S.C.A. § 1961. Signed by Honorable Susan O. Hickey on April 3, 2015. (mfr)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
WESTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
EL DORADO DIVISION
CASE NO. 13-CV-1094
LINCOLN FINANCIAL GROUP
Before the Court is a Motion for Default Judgment filed on behalf of Plaintiff David
Widener. (ECF No. 11). The present motion was filed on December 26, 2014, and the affidavit in
support of default was filed on December 30, 2014. (ECF No. 12). The clerk’s entry of default was
entered on January 13, 2015. (ECF No. 13).
On December 18, 2013, Plaintiff filed suit against Defendant Lincoln Financial Group
seeking a judgment against Defendant for its alleged failure to pay Plaintiff’s claim for short term
disability payments pursuant to Plaintiff’s insurance policy. Plaintiff’s claim is made pursuant to
the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (“ERISA”), 29 U.S.C. §§ 1001 et seq. Plaintiff’s
exhibits show that, on December 18, 2013, counsel for Plaintiff sent a letter via certified mail,
restricted delivery, to Lincoln Financial Group c/o Corporation Service Company, the agent for
service of process for Lincoln Financial Group. The letter enclosed a summons and a copy of the
Complaint. The mail was received by the Corporation Service Company on December 26, 2013 and
signed by Robert J. Petit. As of the date of this Order, no entry of appearance or answer has been
filed by Lincoln Financial Group.
After the Complaint was filed, Lincoln Financial Group paid Plaintiff $12,501.24 under his
short term disability policy. As a result of this payment, Lincoln Financial Group no longer owes
Plaintiff any short term disability payments. Plaintiff argues that, since it took “the filing of a
lawsuit...for Lincoln Financial Group to turn around and pay David Widener the short term disability
benefits,” David Widener should be awarded the attorney’s fees and cost claimed in his Complaint.
Pursuant to ERISA, 29 U.S.C. § 1132(g)(2), attorneys fees may be awarded to compensate
a plaintiff for expenses reasonably incurred in collecting delinquent contributions. In this case, the
Court finds that an award of attorneys fees and costs is appropriate.
The Court will calculate
reasonable attorneys fees by multiplying the hours reasonably expended in the litigation by a
reasonable hourly fee. See Local 513, Int'l Union Operating Engineers v. Larry Ortmann
Contracting, Inc., No. 4:08-CV-1177 CAS, 2009 WL 151698, at *2 (E.D. Mo. Jan. 22, 2009).
Plaintiff’s attorney states that he spent 15.5 billable hours on this case and that his hourly rate is
$250.00. This amounts to a total fee of $3,875.00. Adding $400 in court costs, the total award
amounts to $4,275.00.
For the reasons stated above, the Court finds that Plaintiff’s Motion for Default Judgment
(ECF No. 11) should be and hereby is GRANTED. Judgment is hereby entered in favor of Plaintiff
and against Lincoln Financial Group in the amount of $4,275.00 plus post judgment interest pursuant
28 U.S.C.A. § 1961.
IT IS SO ORDERED, this 3rd day of April, 2015.
/s/ Susan O. Hickey
Susan O. Hickey
United States District Judge
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